Saturday, 31 October 2009

31st October 2009

Having been dropped off at the Hungry Horse during the early afternoon, I was quite pleased to see 3 Lapwings resting in the field. Moving to the lakes, there were 2 Teals and 2 Mute Swans at Windmill Pool, and 9+ Tufted Ducks at Terry's Pool. Saw a Green Woodpecker in Little Clowes Wood.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 30 October 2009

30th October 2009

During the morning, Steve Lloyd saw a Wigeon at Terry's Pool and 6 more at Windmill Pool. Going on records available to me, 7 appears to be the highest count of this species at Earlswood this decade (at least).

I too saw all 7 Wigeons during the morning, the 6 first landing on Engine Pool for several minutes before flying southwest over Terry's Pool and then eventually landing on Windmill Pool, where they stayed for the remainder of the morning at least. Also seen at Windmill Pool were 3 Teals, 5 Tufted Ducks and the White-cheeked Pintail, with another surprise in the form of a Chiffchaff heard singing in short bursts along the west side. 2 Mute Swans were still at Engine Pool, plus 2 Grey Wagtails were seen from the causeway. Besides the lone Wigeon, I also saw 14+ Siskins, 30+ Goldfinches, a Bullfinch and a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool. Fieldfares, Redwings, a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker passed over.

Cycling home through Forshaw Heath, saw a Kestrel and a Great Spotted Woodpecker there.

M.P. Griffiths

Thursday, 29 October 2009

29th October 2009

Steve Lloyd could see no sign of yesterday's sawbill this morning.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

28th October 2009

A "merganser" (Goosander?) was reported seen at Terry's Pool during the morning (per Steve Lloyd).

I was at the lakes for much of the morning from c. 7:00 am and didn't see this sawbill, but don't think I reached Terry's Pool until after 9 pm so it could easily have flown off by then. Doubt I overlooked it as I went all the way round the pool today, during which noted a Wigeon, a Shoveler, 5 Tufted Ducks, a Treecreeper and 2 Nuthatches. At the causeway, counted 250+ Fieldfares fly over the lakes, though many more probably did so, plus 8 Skylarks, 6 Meadow Pipits and a number of Redwings. The White-cheeked Pintail was still at Windmill Pool, as were the 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool. A Kingfisher was also observed.

Coming home along Cleobury Lane, noted 10 Skylarks pass over the Hungry Horse field, and a Common Pheasant in another field. Also saw a Raven flying approximately along Braggs Farm Lane (Dickens Heath, not quite in Earlswood).

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Forgot to mention on yesterday's post that the redhead Goosander I saw flew off at c. 4:55 pm, so today's bird could've been a different one (though it seems both were redheads).

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

27th October 2009

Thanks to my uncle fixing my bike's punctures yesterday, I was able to cycle again to the lakes during the late afternoon, though I spent little more than an hour there. Saw the White-cheeked Pintail and 2 Mute Swans at Windmill Pool. Best of all though was an earlier-than-usual redhead male Goosander (either eclipse or first-winter) at Terry's Pool, along with 5 Tufted Ducks and 2 Kingfishers.
M.P. Griffiths

Monday, 26 October 2009

26th October 2009

Tony and Barbara Philp (have met both at the lakes several times) saw 45-50 Golden Plovers make several low passes over the Hungry Horse field at around 8:30 am, but couldn't tell whether they landed.

I hadn't planned to go birding today, but these were too good to miss (from what I can tell, this winter visitor usually arrives at Earlswood in November). However, there was no sign of them at the Hungry Horse when I arrived at c. 2:00 pm, though I did see a Kestrel, 2 Mistle Thrushes and 17 Pied Wagtails there after about 30 minutes observation. At the lakes, saw a Wigeon, a Kingfisher, a Siskin and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Terry's Pool; 2 Mute Swans at Engine Pool; and 4 Tufted Ducks at Windmill Pool, plus a Reed Bunting at the scrubland to the south.

M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 25 October 2009

25th October 2009

Kevin Bates visited the lakes during the early morning, and had 2 Mute Swans and a Kingfisher at Terry's Pool.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

24th October 2009

The bike is out of action yet again due to a flat tyre (two thorns punctured it!), so had to walk to the lakes today, late afternoon. Saw 30+ Pied Wagtails, 70 Starlings and a Kestrel in the Hungry Horse field. At the lakes, unusually Engine Pool had the best birds seen, namely the White-cheeked Pintail, 2 Mute Swans and a Kingfisher.
M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 23 October 2009

23rd October 2009

Reckoning that yesterday's Rock Pipit had roosted near Engine Pool, I got up early to visit the lakes to see whether it was still there. Reaching the causeway, I looked at the bit of shore that the bird had favoured and, yes, a Rock Pipit was there! I'm pretty sure it was the same bird, seeing as it was somewhat confiding like yesterday (must've been no more than 8 metres from me at one point) and favoured the same area, but the bird was already foraging by the time I got there at c. 7:20 am so I didn't see it leave its roost. Spent ages watching it, but did look away sometimes; just 13 Redwings were seen flying over, as well as 2 Rooks, plus a Meadow Pipit landed on the causeway briefly, giving me an opportunity to compare two pipit species. Unfortunately the Rock Pipit left the lakes at c. 9:15 am, due (I'm afraid) to one of the funniest things I've ever seen two birds do: the Rock Pipit was creeping around some small boulders and creeped up one side of a boulder, next to which was a feral duck on the other side; it scared the duck as it came into view, causing the duck to take flight, which in turn made the pipit take flight and off it went, heading west over Engine Pool. I don't know why the duck was frightened by the sudden appearance of a much smaller bird near it.

Watching the Rock Pipit leave the lakes, I noticed it pass 3 hirundines so moved to get a closer view of them - whatever they were they'd be a good record for this time of year. All 3 were Swallows, flying over Engine Pool and Terry's Pool. A Kingfisher was also seen at Engine Pool. At Terry's Pool, was pleased to finally see 2+ Siskins (still haven't seen Fieldfare this autumn though); also saw 2 Mute Swans, a Goldcrest, a Treecreeper and a Nuthatch there. At Windmill Pool, saw a Water Rail in the usual place, plus 4 Teals and the White-cheeked Pintail. I also heard a Chiffchaff singing at the scrubland south of Windmill Pool, and saw a Red Admiral there. Sadly there was still no sign of the Rock Pipit along the causeway/dam just before I left after midday.

Coming along Cleobury Lane on my way home, had a Common Pheasant, 7 Stock Doves and 3 Rooks in a field.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Rock Pipit is the 99th species I've ticked at Earlswood; I'm hoping the 100th will be a rarity :-)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

22nd October 2009

Coming away from Solihull in the car with my mom during the late afternoon, almost didn't go to Earlswood because I was feeling a bit tired, but my mom was in the wrong lane going over an island and had to take a road heading towards Earlswood, so thought I might as well get her to drop me off there seeing as I had my bins with me. GLAD I DID!!! At the causeway, whilst trying to locate a wagtail I could hear calling nearby, I saw a pipit foraging on a bit of shore at Windmill Pool's northernmost corner - it was a Rock Pipit, an uncommon passage migrant in the midlands yet my second at Earlswood this month! Spent many minutes watching it until it moved to Engine Pool's dam and made its way along there towards the engine house, before flying up a short distance then flying down again to somewhere near the lakes' Wood Lane car park (West Midlands county!), where I reckon it roosted. By then it was rapidly getting dark, and the only other bird I'd noted was the White-cheeked Pintail at Windmill Pool. At Terry's Pool, I was treated to 2 Tawny Owls calling, one of which I also saw on two occasions as a silhouette in trees and in flight; 2 bats were also seen there.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

21st October 2009

Cycled to the lakes mid-afternoon, and saw a Wigeon and a Tufted Duck at Terry's Pool, and a Water Rail (southwest corner as before) and the White-cheeked Pintail at Windmill Pool.
M.P. Griffiths

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

20th October 2009

Another early morning visit to the lakes on the bike was quite productive again. At Windmill Pool, the White-cheeked Pintail was still present, with 3 Teals, a Tufted Duck, a Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails also seen, plus a Sparrowhawk over. At Terry's Pool, saw a Wigeon and a fourth Teal. Coming home along Cleobury Lane, had a Common Pheasant, 20 Stock Doves, 2 Feral Pigeons, 195+ Starlings and 2 Rooks in a field.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 18 October 2009

18th October 2009

Cycled to the lakes during the early morning, and had a Little Owl on the way there. From the causeway, saw the White-cheeked Pintail at Windmill Pool again, plus a Grey Wagtail, and noted numerous Redwings, 1 or 2 Meadow Pipit, 5 Skylarks and 115 Woodpigeons (including a flock of 70) pass over. Also met a birder, Kevin Bates, who I've met previously - nice to meet you again. Moved on to Terry's Pool, where I had 3 Wigeons and 3 Tufted Ducks; then to Windmill Pool's south side, where I saw 5 Teals and (best of all) a Little Grebe. On I went to Earlswood STW, but the site was quiet apart from a Grey Wagtail over, and a Kestrel nearby. Coming back home along Wood Lane, saw 4 Mistle Thrushes in a field but they were soon flushed by trespassers.

Kevin returned to the lakes during the late afternoon, and at Windmill Pool he noted the White-cheeked Pintail, a pair of Teal, 3 Goldfinches over, and a Common Pheasant nearby. He also saw a Buzzard along Fulford Hall Road.

I took these photos today:

^ White-cheeked Pintail with two regulars, "Red Flanks" and a small white

^ Black-headed Gulls

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 17 October 2009

17th October 2009

Walked to the lakes during the early morning, but could only spend about two hours there. Even so, was pleased with my count of 321+ Redwings plus a flock of 16 Skylarks over the lakes after 90 minutes spent at the causeway. During the remaining half-hour, 3 Teals at Windmill Pool were the only other mentionable birds seen.

My mom then picked me up and dropped me off at Blythe Valley CP to meet Humphrey Miller and show another birder the nestboxes there for the project. Highlight for me was seeing a few Hornets (wasps) there, which I'd only seen once or twice before elsewhere in the midlands. As on previous occasions, Humphrey kindly took me home, but on the way back we stopped at Box Trees (north of Hockley Heath) where we saw a species we'd hoped would be there - 150+ Golden Plovers flying over the area before eventually landing in a field next to the island.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 16 October 2009

16th October 2009

Today was another very good one for me. Got to the lakes on the bike at c. 7:00 am hoping to see the Starlings leave their roost, but it wasn't until c. 7:30 am that they, an impressive flock numbering something around 600, got up and left. Terry's Pool was quiet, with a Treecreeper being the most notable bird, so I thought it would be an uneventful day. However, things picked up when I visited Windmill Pool's south side, and saw a Water Rail again in the same reedbed as before, plus 1 Wigeon and 6 Teal. Then amongst some distant Canada Geese I saw a duck with distinctive white cheeks - something unusual I thought. Moving to the east side to get a better view (during which a dog-walker pointed out a male Muntjac Deer in someone's back garden along there), I realised that it was an exotic and not really something I could tick; nevertheless, I wanted to ID it and after noting as many features as I could, back at home I concluded that it was an adult White-cheeked (Bahama) Pintail. Still at the lakes, I made my way back to the Malthouse Lane causeway where today's best bird was seen, albeit briefly - a Rock Pipit (lifer!). I'd have liked a much longer view of it at rest than the two few-second views I had before it took off, but it was noticeably bigger and darker than a Meadow Pipit, 2 of which landed on the causeway/dam not long afterwards, so I'm pretty sure the ID is correct. Numerous Redwings and a few Skylarks flew over the lakes again.

Coming home, I spent a few minutes looking at the Hungry Horse field and was rewarded with a Raven perched on one of the telegraph poles, plus a Jay flew over.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. At home, I saw a report of 15 Common Scoters at Upper Bittell Reservoir (Worcestershire) so, dreading the distance and hills I'd have to cycle but really wanting to see them, I made my way there during the late afternoon, finding just one other birder there, Mark, who I've met a couple times before and pointed the flock of 15 (lifer!) out to me. He kindly let me look through his scope (thanks!), so had a better view of them than I would've, but unfortunately the ducks kept well away from the dam. Also seen there was a Common Redshank, a lone Greylag Goose coming in for the night, and 400+ roosting Jackdaws.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

15th October 2009

Was dropped off at the lakes late in the day, and from the causeway couldn't see any of yesterday's reported waterbirds. However, a large flock of birds flying low over Engine Pool caught my attention and through my bins could see they were Starlings, 550+ I reckoned but they were very difficult to count properly as they flew about, before eventually roosting in one of the reed islands, along with 10+ Pied Wagtails. A nice spectacle, but meant it was too dark to check other parts of the lakes by the time the roosting birds were settled. Redwings were heard flying over.
M.P. Griffiths

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

14th October 2009

I'd been feeling rather low and peeved recently; birders being the cause, which is disappointing. However, I'm now able to cycle again (thanks to my uncle who'd kindly spent a few hours yesterday fixing my bike's brakes, gears and two punctures!), so went on the bike to the lakes, hoping something good would be there to cheer me up - thank goodness there was (several in fact!).

Arriving at the causeway before first light, I soon noticed two small ducks on Windmill Pool. Whilst waiting for it to get lighter, I guessed they'd be Teal. Wrong! As it got lighter, I realised that they were actually 2 Rμ**Ϋ Ducks - only the second and third birds I've seen here. Other birds observed at Windmill Pool during the morning included 2 Wigeons, 4 Teals, a Mute Swan (which I was glad to see move on - this species doesn't seem to have much luck at Earlswood), a Tufted Duck and 2 Kingfishers. Whilst some good birds were on the lakes, there was quite a lot of visible migration going on up above, many birds of which seemed to be Redwings with 224+ counted, plus 5+ Skylarks and 2 Meadow Pipits, but a significant number of other passerines went unidentified; 6+ Rooks also flew back and forth over the lakes. There wasn't much of note at Terry's Pool, apart from 2 Wigeons that were almost certainly the same two seen earlier. Finally, I visited Windmill Pool's south side and after a c. 25-minute vigil saw a Water Rail in the small reedbed at the southwest corner - my third at the lakes this year but always nice to see this species. It showed well for just over 8 minutes, then on and off during the next half hour or so; 2 Buzzards were also seen soaring high over the vicinity. Came back through Forshaw Heath, and for the second time in the last few days saw no hirundines there. Still, easily one of my best days at the lakes this year so far.

M.P. Griffiths

Reminder: RSPB Solihull Local Group field trip to the lakes and surrounding woodlands this time next month. Provided I remember, I'll put one final reminder on here closer to the time.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

11th October 2009

Another early morning visit to the lakes to do my 10th WeBS counts, and had a Buzzard and a Kestrel on the way. At Terry's Pool, had a Kingfisher and 3 Tufted Ducks, and possibly 2 Siskins over but not 100% sure. There was no sign of yesterday's Wigeon despite spending well over an hour at the southern half of Windmill Pool hoping it might appear, but the 3 Teals were still there, as was probably a second Kingfisher, and a Common Pheasant was heard to the south. Also heard Redwing flight calls on a few occasions, with 1+2 seen. Of today's waterbird survey, I was pleased with my total count of 24 Moorhens, which is possibly my best count of this species at the lakes so far. Met a birder who'd had a Snipe and Pochards at the lakes in the last few weeks.

Was able to spend about 10 minutes at Forshaw Heath during the early afternoon, where 3 Swallows and a House Martin were still hanging around farm buildings, plus 1 or 2 Redwing passed over.

M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 10 October 2009

10th October 2009

Set off quite early to the lakes this morning, seeing a Muntjac Deer in a field along Norton Lane along the way. The area was foggy, including the lakes which took well over an hour to clear and I didn't see much from the causeway during that time, although 1 or 2 Meadow Pipit and 2 Grey Wagtails rested there. As the fog began to disappear, thought I'd better get to Terry's Pool, but 3 Tufted Ducks, 2 Kingfishers, 3 Bullfinches and a Treecreeper were the best on offer there, and with nothing notable at Engine Pool I thought that yesterday's good ducks had all gone. However, eventually checked the southern half of Windmill Pool where I had 3 Teals and, best of all, a Wigeon (my first at the lakes this autumn); whilst in that area, I also saw 2 Ravens fly over the lakes.

Then proceeded on to Earlswood Moathouse NR, but a Treecreeper and a Coal Tit were the best I could see in there.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 9 October 2009

9th October 2009

Walked to the lakes and spent most of the morning there, and glad I did because there was a good variety of birds present, plus I had a patch tick! There were 3 Gadwalls, including a lovely adult male, at Terry's Pool, as well as a Teal, 4 Tufted Ducks and 2 Kingfishers. There was a Grey Wagtail at the causeway, and at Windmill Pool I had my first Redwing of the autumn (just the one, flew from a tree over the pool and out of view pursued by a Goldfinch!), plus 2 more Teal and 3 more Tufted Ducks. Visible migration included 2+ Meadow Pipits over the lakes (though I didn't really pay much attention to them); more notable were 4 Skylarks flying southeast over the lakes, followed by 2 more heading in the same direction over the scrubland south of Windmill Pool.

Got my mom to pick me up and take me to Forshaw Heath again, where some hirundines had gathered around farm buildings, including 10+ Swallows and 1 House Martin.

M.P. Griffiths

P.S. Seems that two people, at least one of which works at the craft centre, saw an "unusual large bird" at the lakes recently, and they've come to the conclusion that it was a Sooty Shearwater!!! I'm not sure about this though. Firstly this would be a first for the West Midlands region (as far as I know). Secondly, there were more Cormorants present at the lakes today than usual, so if this has been the case during recent days (can't say for sure as I hadn't done a thorough search of the lakes since the 3rd), then perhaps this would make them more noticeable to the general public, some of which don't seem to be familiar with them and it is usually the Cormorant that people point out to me and ask what it/they are. Then again, the observers might be familiar with Cormorants and have been able to eliminate the species from a list of possibilities. Also, Earlswood has one previous record of a shearwater - an immature male Manx Shearwater shot at the lakes in 1896. But do Sooty Shearwaters get seen inland? (Thanks to Ashley Grove and John Roberts for passing this recent record on to me.)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

6th October 2009

I was able to have a c. 5-minute look at the lakes from the causeway during the early afternoon, but 2 Grey Wagtails were the only birds of note visible.
M.P. Griffiths

Sunday, 4 October 2009

4th October 2009

Left my house before first light, reaching the lakes at c. 6:50 am but was only able to watch them from the causeway for about 40 minutes, but still saw 16+ Pied Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail and a Mink there, before a mate took me birding elsewhere in Warwickshire. Oh, and I had a Little Owl in the area again.
M.P. Griffiths

Saturday, 3 October 2009

3rd October 2009

Saw nothing different to yesterday during some late afternoon birding today, with 1 Shoveler at Windmill Pool and 2 Grey Wagtails still showing from the causeway. Got my mom to pick me up and take me through Forshaw Heath, where the 2 Swallows are still hanging around.

Now for a bit of fun. I've just added a new page to my website for birders to add their Earlswood lists, and see how they compare with others. Don't think that if you've seen more species at Earlswood than me that I won't put your details on - I will, and it'll give me something to aim for. Similarly don't be ashamed if your list seems low - it'll increase and might well overtake mine. Like I said, this is just for fun and I hope people don't take it too seriously.

M.P. Griffiths

Friday, 2 October 2009

2nd October 2009

During the early afternoon, had 12 Stock Doves and a mere 30+ Starlings in the Hungry Horse field, plus 4 Meadow Pipits on wires nearby, and a total of 3+ Jays along Norton Lane. The lakes were somewhat quiet, with a Shoveler, a Kingfisher and 2 Grey Wagtails at Windmill Pool, and not much elsewhere besides a Tufted Duck and possibly the same Kingfisher at Terry's Pool. As the afternoon progressed, I continued on to Forshaw Heath, finding 17+ Pied Wagtails in a field near Big Clowes Wood, whilst further on had 2 Swallows around horsestables and an unidentified wader flying high over (really annoyed I couldn't ID a wader in flight again - that's the third one in recent weeks!).
M.P. Griffiths